M4 Sherman

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M4 Sherman
M4A1 as a museum vehicle

M4A1 as a museum vehicle

General properties
crew 5 (commander, driver, radio operator, gunner, loader)
length 5.84 m
width 2.62 m
height 2.74 m
Dimensions 30.3 tons
Armor and armament
Armor 38-76 mm
Main armament 1 × 75 mm M3 L / 37.5 cannon
Secondary armament 1 × 12.7 mm MG Browning M2
2 × 7.62 mm MG Browning M1919
drive 9-cylinder gasoline engine (radial engine)
350 hp
suspension Vertical cone suspension
Top speed 40 km / h
Power / weight 11.5 hp / ton
Range 190 km

The M4 Sherman was an American medium tank that was used in World War II and the Korean War . Officially named Medium Tank, M4 , the US tank of the Second World War, with 50,000 units, was given its nickname Sherman (after US General William T. Sherman ) from the British, who also used it in large numbers.


The M4 was developed in 1941 from the prototype T6 and has been in series production since February 1942. He got the name Sherman when he entered the British Army . There he stood for the first time in the second battle of El Alamein in Egypt.

Armament and armor corresponded to the state of the art at the time, but were rather average. Its great advantages were the vertically stabilized cannon, the low manufacturing costs and the broad-based production with extensive standardization of the components. 2000 pieces are said to have been produced monthly. Due to the large number of companies involved in production, the M4 was equipped with different engines at the same time, which led to differences in quality. The frontal armor was 91 mm on the gun mantlet, 76 mm on the turret front and 63 mm on the hull bow. This was sufficient for use in North Africa in 1942/43, but made the Sherman increasingly vulnerable as the war progressed. As with all American tanks of the Second World War, the commander had a 360 ° M6 corner mirror for observing the battlefield under armor protection.

A well-known weakness of the early M4 was the easy flammability of the ammunition after a hit, which then also set the engine on fire. However, many tanks from the countries involved in the war had this problem. Because of this fire hazard, the Sherman was nicknamed "Ronson" by the crews (a well-known lighter brand with the advertising slogan: "Ronson is always on fire!"), The Germans called him "Tommykocher". Only in the case of the M4, which was manufactured from the beginning of 1944, was this weakness resolved by attaching water containers to the ammunition storage spaces. This system, known as “wet stowage”, reduced the risk of fire after a hit in the fighting area by more than a factor of four.

From the end of 1943 the Sherman was clearly inferior to the heavy German tanks ( Panther , Jagdpanther , Tiger , Königstiger , Jagdtiger ) in battle; under ideal conditions, even a single Panzer VI “Tiger” could inflict heavy losses on a Sherman unit due to its superior firepower and armor. The massive numerical superiority of the M4 as well as the simple repair and maintenance compared to the German vehicles compensated for the qualitative deficiencies.

At the end of 1943 a Sherman variant was under development, which was mainly used in the artillery , but should also be suitable for anti-tank defense. It was equipped with a 105 mm howitzer , which had better penetration but was still insufficient against tigers and panthers. Frontal fire at the heavy German tanks had little chance of success. The standard tactic, therefore, was to request air or artillery support, or to use the numerical superiority and agility of the Sherman to flank enemy vehicles. Panthers and tigers were also vulnerable on the sides or stern. Although this tactic led to high losses among the Sherman crews, it had to be accepted due to the lack of better vehicles.

The Sherman Firefly was an English conversion, in which the 17-Pfünder- Pak replaced (76.2 mm L / 55), the 75 mm gun. This weapon was able to penetrate even heavy German tanks head-on at normal combat distances. The armor protection of the Firefly was not increased, so that it also exhibited the fire sensitivity of the M4.

The Israeli army modernized its Sherman in the 1950s to 1960s. These M50 with 75 mm SA50 cannon and M51 with 105 mm L / 44 cannon D1504 were used successfully in 1967 and 1973, but also in 1982; In 1994 they were finally retired. Chile bought around 100 pieces from Israel in the 1990s. Such Shermans also went to the Christian militia that fought on the side of the Israelis in the Lebanese civil war and afterwards. This is said to have used the Sherman in 1990 in battles north of Beirut rather unsuccessfully.

The first series of the Sherman is the most-built tank in the USA with 49,234 vehicles.

Use in the Wehrmacht

The Wehrmacht first used M4 Sherman loot tanks in early 1943 during battles in Tunisia. Several of the captured Shermans were transported to the Heereswaffenamt (HWA) in the German Reich to examine them.

From the beginning of 1943 until the surrender in 1945, the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS deployed captured Sherman tanks of various versions under the designation Panzerkampfwagen (PzKpfw.) M4 748 (a) at the front. Shermans were captured in fighting in North Africa, Italy, and the western and eastern fronts. The Shermans were used as battle tanks, armored recovery vehicles and ammunition tugs. The armored turret was dismantled in the Shermans not used as battle tanks. In the 10th SS Panzer Division "Frundsberg" and in the Panzer Brigade 150 , ten Shermans were in combat at times. In all other German associations fewer Shermans were in use, mostly only one-offs. Shermans were also used by non-armored units that had captured these tanks. The 5th Fallschirmjäger Division temporarily deployed six and the 281st Infantry Division (Eastern Front) five Shermans. In order to prevent the Shermans, now deployed on the German side, from being attacked by their own troops, they were marked with oversized crosses .


  • M4 - first standardized version that went into production later (from July 1942); welded rolled steel tub, running gear with vertical conical suspension (English: Vertical Volute Spring Suspension, abbreviated: VVSS), air-cooled Continental - Wright 9 -cylinder radial engine R975 C1 or C4 with 400 or 460 HP; from February 1944 switch to armament with 105 mm howitzer, last versions with HVSS (Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension - horizontal evolute springs); In some cases, instead of the straight front plate, superstructures made of cast steel were welded on, similar to the hull of the M4A1, this variant is generally referred to as a "hybrid".
  • M4A1 - first series-produced variant, technically identical to the M4, but with cast steel hull, VVSS chassis (Vertical Volute Spring Suspension), from January 1944 conversion to "wet stowage" and installation of the 76 mm gun in a new turret, final version with HVSS
  • M4A2 - used as the only version a diesel drive, consisting of two six-cylinder General Motors 6-71 with a total of 375 HP, welded rolled steel tub, VVSS, from February 1944 installation of the new tower with 76 mm armament and "wet stowage", HVSS partly as post-war retrofitting. Most of the 76mm vehicles were delivered to the Soviet Union, where the tanks were primarily used in guard regiments.
  • M4A3 - with Ford V8 engine (GAA V8 with 450, later 500 hp), rolled steel tub with a slightly modified rear end, from 1944 on, the inclination of the tub bow was changed and a “wet stowage” was installed, a new turret and new armament, the final version was the first with HVSS. This version was also used by the US armed forces in the Korean War.
  • M4A4 - with a 30-cylinder “multibank” in-line engine from Chrysler. The construction with 20.6 liters of displacement and an output of 425 hp consisted of five coupled rows with six cylinders each; Extended rolled steel tub, only supplied as part of the Lend Lease Act , basis for most “Firefly” conversions, exclusively VVSS (possible conversions only after the war and not in series), taken out of production in 1944
  • M4A5 - US-American name for the very similar RAM made in Canada . This was never used in combat.
  • M4A6 - prototype with a 450 hp Caterpillar RD-1820 diesel engine, which was developed from the 9-cylinder radial engine Wright R-1820 . Cannon and armor like M4A4, but heavier because of the diesel engine. Only about 75 pieces were made.
  • Sherman Firefly - a variant developed by the British with increased firepower, which was designed to combat German heavy tanks.

Modifications based on the M4

Calliope T34 rocket launcher in France
M-51 in Israel

Important modifications based on a modified M4 hull were:

  • M10 Wolverine and its British conversion 17 pdr SP Achilles (the latter were the first to carry the powerful 76.2 mm cannons in an open turret)
  • Tank AA, 20 mm Quad, Skink - a Canadian modification that was equipped with 4 20-mm anti-aircraft machine guns and a corresponding turret modification.
  • The T14 was a storm tank version of the M4. In 1943 two prototypes were built. It was more heavily armored (133 mm) and powered by a Ford GAF ​​engine with 520 hp. With the 75 mm cannon, it weighed around 42 tons.
  • DD tank specially developed for invasion and use on the beaches of Normandy.
  • The M 31 "Demolition Tank" was developed on the basis of the M4A3. In addition to the 75 mm cannon, the M 31 had a 2 × 183 mm rocket launcher. The model was somewhat more heavily armored, weighed 35 tons and was intended as a breakthrough tank. It was powered by a 500 hp Ford GAF ​​V8 engine. Production did not get beyond a few prototypes in 1944/45.
  • M40 GMC , heavy self-propelled gun with a 155 mm howitzer
  • M32 / M74 armored recovery vehicle
  • Sherman BARV
  • Mine clearing vehicles with cladding rollers T1E1 to T1E6 (each with different modifications to the mine clearing roller and the actual mine protection)
  • Mine clearance vehicles with flails T2 - T4 (modifications to flails and armor protection)
  • Mine clearer T4 (British) - T14
  • Rocket launcher T34 Calliope - T105 (changes in the caliber size of the rockets and their number)
  • Flammpanzer M4A3R3
  • M-50 Isherman, an Israeli advancement with the French CN-75-50 75mm cannon of the AMX-13
  • M-51 Super Sherman, an Israeli advancement with the shortened French CN-105-57 105mm L / 44 cannon of the AMX-30

Technical specifications

Sectional drawing of an M4A4: 1 - crane eye, 2 - ventilation, 3 - turret hatch, 4 - corner mirror, 5 - running ring, 6 - turret seat for operating a 12.7 mm machine gun mounted on the turret, 7 - gunner's seat, 8 - Commander's seat (next to the gunner's seat), 9 - gun turret, 10 - air filter, 11 - radiator cap, 12 - intake manifold, 13 - 30-cylinder in-line star engine (Chrysler), 14 - exhaust, 15 - chain balance wheel, 16 - water pump, 17 - radiator, 18 - power generator, 19 - rear drive shaft, 20 - tower cage, 21 - slip ring, 22 - front drive shaft, 23 - evolute spring suspension, 24 - gearbox, 25 - chain drive wheel , 26 - driver's seat, 27 - seat of the bow machine gunner (next to Driver's seat), 28 - 75 mm cannon, 29 - driver hatch, 30 - 7.62 mm bow machine gun
VVSS drive
Continental Wright 9-cylinder R975 radial engine before installation in an M4A1
"Multibank" - in-line radial engine from Chrysler with 30 cylinders for the M4A4
Sherman M4A1 Sherman M4A3
General properties
crew five men
Combat weight 30.4 t 33.7 t
Ground pressure 1.1 kg / cm 2 0.77 kg / cm 2
length 5.89 m 7.54 m
width 2.62 m 3 m
height 2.74 m 2.97 m
Ground clearance 43 cm
Chain width 22 cm 58.4 cm
Main armament 75mm L / 40 cannon 76.2 mm L / 52 cannon
Secondary armament two MG Browning M1919
caliber .30-06 (7.62 mm)

one MG Browning M2
caliber .50 BMG (12.7 mm)

Combat load HW 97 floors 71 floors
Combat load MG 5050 rounds 6850 rounds
Drive and performance
( petrol engines )
air-cooled Continental - Wright
nine-cylinder radial engine
water-cooled Ford
eight-cylinder V-engine
cooling air water
Displacement 15.9 l 17.9 l
Bore / stroke 127/140 mm 137/152 mm
maximum speed 2400 rpm 2600 rpm
power 400 hp 500 hp
Liter output 25.2 hp / l 27.9 hp / l
Weight related performance 13.2 hp / t 14.8 hp / t
transmission five forward and one reverse gear
Top speed 40.2 km / h 41.8 km / h
Fuel supply 662 l 636 l
Range road 193 km 161 km
Range terrain
steering Cletrac double differential gear with 2 steering brakes ( brake bands )
Rollers 6th
suspension Evolute springs HVSS
Fording depth 100 cm 91 cm
Tub bow 50.8 mm 50.8 to 108 mm
Tub side 38.1 mm
Tub rear 38.1 mm
Tub roof 19 mm
Tub bottom 12.7 to 25.4 mm
Tower front 76.2 mm 63.5 to 88.9 mm
Tower side 50.8 mm 63.5 mm
Turret stern 50.8 mm 63.5 mm
Tower roof 25.4 mm


An M4 Sherman played the lead role alongside James Garner in the 1984 US action comedy The Tank . The 2014 film Heart of Steel tells the story of the crew of an M4 Sherman.

An M4 Sherman is used for the Wiltz tank memorial .


  • Steven J. Zaloga : Sherman Medium Tank 1942-45. Concord Publications, ISBN 962-361-669-4 .
  • Steven J. Zaloga : Armored Thunderbolt, The USArmy Sherman in World war II, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg 2008, ISBN 978-0-8117-0424-3
  • Roger Ford: Sherman tanks. Karl Müller Verlag, ISBN 3-86070-769-8 .
  • Belton Y. Cooper: Death Traps - The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II. Presidio Press, ISBN 0-89141-814-8 .
  • Headquarters First United States Army, Armored Section, Intelligence Report of Tanks Rendered Inoperative Due to Enemy Action, June 1944 - April 1945.
  • Alexander Lüdeke : captured tanks of the Wehrmacht - Great Britain, Italy, Soviet Union and USA 1939–45. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-613-03359-7 .

Web links

Commons : M4 Sherman  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Stabilizer. www.theshermantank.com, accessed February 26, 2018 .
  2. Ray Merriam: World War 2 In Review: Sherman Medium Tank M4 . Merriam Press, Hoosick Falls, NY 2017, ISBN 978-1-365-86490-2 (American English, limited preview in Google Book Search).
  3. David Ax: Armored Coffin: The M-4 Sherman Tank Was Hell on Wheels. In: The National Interest . April 30, 2019, accessed July 4, 2019 .
  4. Steven Zaloga: Armored Thunderbolt . Ed .: Stackpole. Mechanicsburg 2008, ISBN 978-0-8117-0424-3 , pp. 116-118 .
  5. ^ John Buckley: British Armor in the Normandy Campaign 1944 . Ed .: Taylor & Francis. London 2006, ISBN 0-415-40773-7 , pp. 127 .
  6. Lüdeke: captured armor of the Wehrmacht. 2011, pp. 119–125.
  7. Photo here (from: Fig. 4 )
  8. a b Thomas L. Jentz : The German Armored Troop 1943–1945. Podzun-Pallas Verlag 1999, ISBN 3-7909-0624-7 , p. 278.